CHENNAI, India — Ford India’s initiative to provide prototype cars from the pre-build stage to engineering colleges for demonstration and experimental purposes has proven hugely successful. Encouraged by the initial success the program has seen in Tamil Nadu, the company is now gearing up to meet requests for such cars and engines from colleges across India.
Combining the twin goals of recycling and corporate social responsibility, the initiative by Ford India provides pre-build test vehicles to automotive engineering labs at colleges to help students in their educational experiments. To date, Ford has donated 23 cars and two engines to 17 engineering colleges.
Under the program, several prototypes built ahead of mass production at Ford’s Chennai plant were provided to the institutes at a nominal price of INR25,000 (approximately US$500). The program bolsters Ford’s commitment to Lean and Green manufacturing processes by eliminating the need to scrap the vehicles.
“Some of these cars were built for export markets and hence came with left hand drive and different emission levels. They could not be certified and sold in India and would have ended up as scrap,” said Sankar Prathap, an engineer in the Voice of Customer fleet in the new model program (NMP). “By deciding to donate them for educational use, we hit upon an innovative recycling program.”
The vehicles are then used for static tests and demonstration purposes at their respective automotive engineering labs.
“The token amount charged covers what we would have recovered from the sold scrap, but the donation definitely is a greener option,” said S. Komala, launch manager, Ford India.
In fact, D.Siva Kumar, manager, NMP at Ford India, said requests are now pouring in from colleges all over India after the program greatly benefitted over 15 colleges in Tamil Nadu.
“Two months ago, we donated two engines to an engineering college in Punjab, while a request for a car has also come from a college in Gujarat where Ford is building its second plant,” he said.
Ford India also helps the colleges in transporting the vehicles by working with its logistics partners.
Many of the requests have come from colleges whose alumni are currently working with Ford or where Ford leaders visit as part of industry-academic interaction.
“We view it as a great way of giving back to our alma mater and earning goodwill for Ford,” said Vijaya Vijayalakshmi from the Product Development team, whose college Madras Institute of Technology received a Ford Classic last year under the program.
“We have received the Ford Figo vehicle and I personally thank you for the efforts you have taken and also thank the team who worked in this regard. I also take this opportunity to thank Ford India for sponsoring the vehicle,” said M. Antony Forster Raj, Faculty Advisor to the department of Mechanical Engineering at St. Xavier's Catholic College of Engineering, Nagercoil where Body Shop manager Arthur Devadawson recently attended a symposium.
P.Senthil Kumar, vice president of manufacturing hands over a car to representatives of neighbouring Crescent College of Engineering, Vandalur near Maraimalai Nagar.